I’ve never been into computers, nor am I fan of the internet. We are supposed to believe that the information superhighway is the greatest thing ever, but the revelations about PRISM and other U.S. government spying has me feeling like smashing my computers, canceling my Internet service and going back to actually talking with people face to face, as unpleasant as that would be.
I am old enough to remember when all we had was a land line and a TV that only got a half dozen or so local stations. I also remember wasting a lot less time on trivial nonsense before the internet. Not that I don’t sincerely enjoy watching hours of cat videos on YouTube; I’m just saying that my time might be better spend volunteering in my community, or exercising, or spending time with my family.
My child is growing up never knowing a world where people read books, talk to one another and spend time doing something that doesn’t involve staring intently at a screen of some sort for hours on end. The internet, television and video games pose such a distraction, I wonder what would have happened to me had all these things been available when I was a kid.
Until the Snowden revelations, I was concerned about how to handle computer use and internet time. Now, I have to explain that nothing we do online is private, everything is recorded and stored so that big data systems can use algorithms to search and index our online activity. Your smartphone is a tracking device, your network encryption is easily side-stepped and your webcams can be remotely and clandestinely activated to spy on you in a way only imagined by George Orwell up to now.
For me, the thrill of the internet is gone. Every time I Google something, I feel like I am being watched. Now, I turn my computer on only when necessary and I no longer carry a smartphone. I do not have Facebook or Twitter accounts, and I don’t engage in “social media.” This is not because I have something to hide, it is because I understand what the purpose of these things really is. I know these attempts are futile, but I figure I’m less likely to lose if I don’t participate in the game. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to extricate ourselves from the trap that has been set for us.
Now do you understand why they call it the world wide web?